Points Bibliography: Interpreting Psilocybin and Peyote

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Ego Death Resulting from Psilocybin Experiences: Exploring the Concept Within Mysticism

Author: Bobbett, Michelle

Abstract: The concept of ego-death was explored as a possible subset of mystical experience resulting from psilocybin mushroom ingestion. Participants in an online self-report study were asked to describe their most personally meaningful psilocybin experience, which they also must have deemed mystical or profound for inclusion in the study. Of the 350 total participants, 272 (77.7%) reported having an ego-death experience. This group had significantly higher scores on 27 of 30 items on the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ: Maclean, Leoutsakos, Johnson, & Griffiths, 2012) and significantly differed in the form of psilocybin they ingested X 2 (1)= 11.02, p = .004 and dosage of psilocybin X 2 (1)= 13.58, p =.004, compared to those who did not report ego death. An exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ revealed similarities to the factors presented by MacLean (et al., 2012). Lastly, in line with the hypothesis of the study, the ego-death group had significantly higher scores than the non-ego-death group on the Time and Space and Mystical factor loadings. The results of the current study have implications for the practice of clinical psychology in general as well as the specific niche of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies. The experience of ego-death and its potential for personal change, as revealed in the qualitative analysis, is especially relevant for practitioners of psychotherapy.

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